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Vegetable-Tanned Leather: technical characteristics

Leather is an extremely versatile material, very resistant to mechanical strain and, at the same time, soft and flexible, as few other materials are. Because of its original biological function as an animal skin, leather has a great capacity for transpiration, combined with a high resistance to outside temperatures and chemicals of various origins.

The tanning process is composed of various chemical and mechanical steps able to turn an organic material destined to decay with the passing of time into a stable material that will not decompose. The leather obtained is particularly suitable for shoes and leather goods, but it can be also used for interiors and specific technical applications.

Among the various methods of tanning, the oldest one is surely vegetable tanning. Tannins, the main active ingredients, are extracted from specific trees and plants having strong anti-oxidant properties, in other words able to chemically tie to the protein fibres of the hide and make it tight and resistant to the hydrolysis of bacteria that cause putrefaction.

The finished leather derived from vegetable tanning has good resistance to wear over time and, compared to other tanning methods, presents other important characteristics:

  • Vegetable-tanned leather has unmistakable aesthetic characteristics, such as a distinctive naturalness and roundness and a gentle, warm and silky touch;
  • Vegetable-tanned leather is responsive to the conditions of its use. Thanks to its natural capacity to mature and adapt itself to the environmental surround, veg-tan leather will make any product made of this leather “unique”;
  • Vegetable-tanned leather, as certified by its trade-mark, guarantees the absence of toxic substances, that are harmful not only to people but also to the environment;
  • Vegetable-tanned leather is well-tolerated by individuals with allergies and sensitivities to metals  because of  the total absence of heavy metals in its tanning process;
  •  The chemical and biological characteristics of this kind of leather allow for the easy disposal of a vegetable-tanned leather product when it has arrived at the end of its lifecycle;
  • The majority of by-products of the leather tanning industry are recovered, properly processed and recycled in other fields;
  • The huge investments and research made in the Tuscan Leather District by the tanneries to realise water depuration and waste recycling plants ensure a full respect for the environment;
  • Animals destined to the food industry are almost exclusively the source of hides used for tanning. No one animal is killed only for its skin. On the contrary, if these hides were not up-cycled through the tanning activity, they would be a large problem in terms of waste disposal.

A tipically Tuscan material,  obtained with a mainly manual processing and that is environmental friendly.

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